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‘Acknowledge’ GP crisis and provide stability, GPCE chair implores minister

‘Acknowledge’ GP crisis and provide stability, GPCE chair implores minister

The Government needs to ‘acknowledge’ that general practice is ‘in crisis’ and provide GPs with ‘safety, stability and hope’ via ‘adequate’ funding, the chair of BMA England’s GP Committee has said.

Primary care minister Andrea Leadsom wrote in a Pulse opinion piece earlier this week that she is convening a Taskforce on the Future of General Practice over the spring and summer, pledging to protect the service.

But in a follow up article in Pulse, Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer argued the minister ‘failed’ to acknowledge the crisis in her article.

As evidence, she argued that she had ‘personally warned’ DHSC ministers about the ‘impending’ GP ’employment crisis’ in August last year, but ‘no action’ was taken.

She also hit back at the the minister’s accusation that the BMA had ‘misrepresented’ the 2024/25 GP contract as ‘final’, ahead of the pay review body’s uplift recommendations.

She said: ‘I wish to correct the false assertion that the BMA misrepresented the GP 2024/25 contract changes as final.’

Dr Bramall-Stainer said she had ‘explained’ to the minister that ‘practices budget for the next 6 to 12 months so if they don’t have enough funding now, they will have to consider handing their contracts back – before any additional DDRB uplift could save them’.

‘It’s clear to us that the DDRB recommendations, based on DHSC and NHSE declarations, will again fall markedly short of what is needed for these practices to remain able to provide care to patients,’ Dr Bramall-Stainer added.

‘The root of the problem lies in the Government’s reluctance to increase funding for general practice. Ultimately, it is evident that the “final” offer will be inadequate, and I stand by that assertion.’

Last month, NHS England warned the DDRB against recommending a GP pay increase above 2%, because any pay awards higher than the funding settlement from the Treasury will ‘put further pressure’ on the NHS budget.

In her opinion piece for Pulse published on Tuesday this week, Dame Andrea said she would personally ‘fight to protect’ the ‘principles, values and community outreach’ that general practice ’embodies’.

Dr Bramall-Stainer, who has had a number of recent meetings with the minister, noted that ‘she seems to genuinely value the core principles of our profession; independent contracting and continuity of care’ but added that ‘GPs have navigated too many damaging policies imposed on general practice’.

She said: ‘The inevitable result is what we’re now seeing; thousands of GPs out of work, more than 1,000 practices lost in the past decade, and practices continuing to close at an alarming rate. Coupled with a crumbling wider NHS, this situation is heartbreaking, and patients are suffering.’

‘A line has been drawn and 99.2% of over 19,000 GPs must be heard. I implore Minister Dame Andrea Leadsom to stand by her promise to “fight to protect the principles of general practice”.

‘An NHS free at the point of service requires a well-resourced and well-supported expert generalist gatekeeper. Without this, our NHS fails and that is what we are now seeing around us. We call on the Minister, the Secretary of State, the Chancellor, and Prime Minister to provide us with safety, stability and hope by adequately funding general practice and reversing this devastating trend.’

The BMA’s GP Committee for England remains formally ‘in dispute’ with the Government over its contract imposition, with ICBs warned of ‘significant’ risks that could arise from potential industrial action later this year.

The next steps are a series of roadshows with grassroots GPs, while the GPCE is also working on a manifesto for general practice ahead of the general election – which any potential industrial action would aim to coincide with.

Earlier this week, Dr Bramall-Stainer argued that ‘objective metrics’ are ‘desperately needed’ as part of a new ‘substantive’ GP contract, including a ‘maximum number’ of registered patients taking into account GP ratio and working hours.